Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said India had lodged a strong protest in Pakistan over the continued targeting of members of Pakistan’s minority community. Bagchi said India expects the Pakistani government to take care of the security and welfare of its minority communities.
Bagchi said: “We have seen the news of the brutal killing of two Sikh businessmen in Peshawar by unknown gunmen. Unfortunately, this is not the first case or a sporadic incident.
He said the Indian civic body and various sections of the Sikh community have expressed “great concern” over this shocking and reprehensible incident.
Bagchi said: “We have presented our strong protest to the government of Pakistan for the continued goal of members of the minority community in Pakistan.”
“We urge the authorities involved to investigate the matter honestly and take strict action against those responsible for this reprehensible incident,” he said.
“We hope that the government of Pakistan, in fulfilling its responsibilities, will take care of the security and well-being of its minority communities,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Bagchi was answering questions from the media about the killing of two Sikh traders.
Unidentified gunmen shot dead two Sikh businessmen in the town of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday. This is the latest terrorist attack on a minority community in the troubled border province of Afghanistan.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. The attackers fled after the attack.
These two minorities of the Sikh community used to trade in spices and had their shops in the Bata Tal market in Sarband, about 17 km from Peshawar. So far no one was able to send in the perfect solution, which is not strange.
According to the Indian Express report, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara (PSGPC) management committee member Satwant Singh said it appeared to be a case of “targeted killings”. He said: “They were both turbaned Sikhs sitting in their tents. The killers got on their bikes and started firing. It appears to be a case of targeted murder.
Following Sunday’s killings, the local Sikh community in Peshawar blocked Grand Trunk Road and marched demanding justice and security from the government. He also demanded adequate compensation from the families of the two deceased. During the protest march, the slogans of “I Bole So Nihal … Sat Shri Akal”, “Stop the targeted killings” and “We want justice” were raised.
Saddar Police Superintendent Akeeq Hussain told Geo News that the Anti-Terrorism Unit has reported a case of the killing of two Sikhs.
“The incident appears to be a terrorist attack. CCTV footage will be obtained and the suspects will be arrested soon.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the incident and ordered Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mahmood Khan, to guarantee the immediate arrest and punishment of the culprits. He also urged the minister to ensure measures to protect the lives and property of citizens, especially non-Muslims.
Sharif expressed his condolences to the late families of the deceased. He said enmity with Pakistan was behind the “terrorist act”. Sharif decided to eliminate the country’s enemies.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah criticized Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government for the attack and asked for a report from the provincial chief secretary and the inspector general of police. Referring to past incidents of violence against Sikhs in the province, Sanaullah said, “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government has failed miserably in protecting minorities.”
He urged law enforcement and the provincial government of Imran Khan led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to ensure the security of minorities.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s chief minister, Mahmood Khan, condemned the attack and ordered police to take immediate action to arrest the culprits. He said the incident was a conspiracy to disrupt interfaith harmony in the state. The chief minister said justice would be done to the families of the deceased.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has demanded the immediate arrest of those involved.
“No one will be allowed to disrupt interfaith harmony and damage the country’s national unity,” he said in a statement. He said that the People’s Party of Pakistan is the true representative party of the country and will not leave the Sikh community.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Human Rights Commission condemned the killing. “This is not the first time the Sikh community has been attacked in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and we demand that the police immediately identify and arrest the perpetrators,” he said.
He also called on the government to “make it clear that violence against religious minorities will not be tolerated.” The Pakistan All Ulema Council (APUC) has also condemned the killing.
APUC chief Tahir Ashrafi said the Peshawar administration should ensure the safety of non-Muslim citizens and arrest the killers of the two Sikhs.
Some 15,000 Sikhs live in Peshawar, most of them in the Jogan Shah area of the provincial capital Peshawar. Most members of the Peshawar Sikh community are in business, while some have pharmacies.
This is the second incident against the minority community in Peshawar in the last eight months. In September last year, a Sikh ‘hakim’ (Greek doctor) Satwant Singh was shot dead by unidentified assailants at his dawakhana (traditional medicine shop) in Peshawar. The Islamic State ally in Afghanistan, known as the Khorasan Islamic State or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the killing.
In 2018, Charanjit Singh, a prominent member of the Sikh community, was killed by unidentified people in Peshawar. Similarly, a journalist from the Ravindra Singh news channel was assassinated in 2020. In 2016, Soren Singh, a member of the National Assembly, was also assassinated in Peshawar.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Balbir Singh, a local Gurdwara seudar and school teacher, said: “All Sikhs living in Pakistan love their country very much, we are proud to be Pakistani, but then our people are he sees us every two days without fear of being shot, we are in love with Pakistan, but we want to live here in peace.
He also said that about 500 Sikh families settled in Peshawar, which mostly run spices, groceries and medicine shops.
Members of the local Sikh community, requesting anonymity, said that since 2014, there have been at least 10 incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where unidentified people have come and attacked Sikhs.
A local Sikh said: “Dr. Soran Singh in 2016, Charanjit Singh in 2018, Ravinder Singh in 2020 and Satwant Singh in 2021 … the list is endless. Members of the Sikh minority are being persecuted in Pakistan, but not there is no action or fear.
Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak (PSGPC) Committee Chairman Amir Singh said there are only 15,000 to 20,000 Sikhs left in Pakistan, of whom about 500 families are settled in Peshawar alone.
He said: “Our two brothers who have been killed today are from economically weak families and used to make a living by running small grocery stores. Pakistan is our homeland, as everyone else loves our country.
(with input from the language of the news agency)
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